“I know it all” syndrome

“I think economy will get better soon.”

“No, economy is bleeding, it will go worse.”

“I guess, finally I found my passion in writing, I am so happy.”

“No, don’t say it too early. You never know you may quit writing.”

Do you have someone in your family, friends or in professional life, who tends to believe he/she knows everything in the world or universe including your future? Well Congratulations!! You are not alone then☺. Everyone has that one person in their life who believes he/she knows everything and who simply dismisses others opinion, information, suggestion or comment. He/she has the power and audacity to challenge your knowledge and skill both. 

I have two friends who fall into the same category. The first one, she would not even allow anyone to complete the sentence. Even if she knows nothing about the subject, she has to fit few lines for sure that too with immense confidence.

The other friend, he doesn’t hear anyone and it feels like internally he continuously thinks what he has to speak to prove others wrong. He would disagree whatever you say. If you say “X”, he would disagree and say “Y”. He thinks it is his moral responsibility to conclude everything at the end.

Hah, why this happens? In this era of information technology, everyone looks smart with smart phones equipped with many smart applications. Everyone has the accessibility to reach to any kind of information in a few clicks. It puts them into the illusion of knowing everything and most of us get into the syndrome of “I know it all”.

We are all born with a curious brain with so many unending unanswered questions. As human beings we always have an impertinent desire to know everything we want. I myself dive into the state of “desire to know everything” the moment I browse my social media accounts. 

My insatiable appetite to have more knowledge often shows me the way to internet, which starts by opening one tab and within 20 mins I allow myself and my laptop to get flooded with more tabs exploding with an ocean of information. Most of us are not even aware that how much superficial information we are getting into using these methods. I consider myself a tiny particle in this universe and I will always be a curious student.

There is nothing wrong in knowing things or having a desire to know everything. Real problem arises when people know only surface of information with a fallacy of knowing all the information and gradually it turns out into “I know it all syndrome”.

How do we spot such people?

“Well, actually, but, for me” – These are few favourite words of “I know it all people” because any conversation happening around them, they simply can’t miss it. They are the big fans of conjunctions and interjections, because they are the prima facie of every discussion, argument or event. They feel like invisible crowned king. 

Belief superiority– Such people strongly believe that their views are superior to others. They behave self-righteous and would claim that their belief is more correct than anyone else’s.  

They feel everyone else is stupid and refuse to believe that others might know better than them. 

Addicted towards attention seeking- Such people have a perpetual desire to seek attention. They do everything to seek attention, be it domination or flattery. If they see someone who can be of their benefit, they start an unending adulation. Flattery is the thing for them to get into benefits. 

Defense Mechanism– It is a part of inferiority complex. They find it hard to believe that they lack any knowledge or information and to cover it up they use defense mechanism. 

Overconfidence– Their overconfidence overflows all the time. They intentionally put others down in order to maintain their ego. Craving for admiration and entitlement is always a priority for them. Such people mostly don’t praise people until they see a benefit.  

They are deaf– They don’t listen but hear. They only speak, always try to keep the conversation around themselves and always show disinterest when others speak. Such people contradict immediately with their perspective without consuming and analysing the thoughts of others.

Habit of concluding – The finishing line is mostly theirs. They are obsessed with it; they just can’t end any discussion or argument without adding their conclusion. Adding conclusion works like crown for them. 

How to Handle “I know it all” people

First thing we need to understand that these people usually don’t have any clue that they are trapped in “I know it all syndrome”. They start enjoying this behaviour because somehow this attitude allows them to dominate others. 

Handling these people is hardest and tricky. They can often take you to the position where you are disturbed, frustrated and irritated. Because they want your disbelief, they want you to freak out at what they are saying because that’s the point they want to slander you.   

While dealing with such people, notice at the moment if you are controlled by your ego or by your heart. If you are controlled by your ego then for sure you are going to get duped into arguments and you are going to get hurt and attacked. 

If you are controlled by your heart then you will be aware and conscious about your behaviour and you will be in a better situation to handle.

Focus on these two categories while handling these people:

  1. I don’t care about this (I know it all) person
  2. I do care about this (I know it all) person

In case you fall into the first category:

  1. Ignore and Let it go – Are you really going to remember this conversation a week later? NO, it means this conversation doesn’t impact your life, so just let it go and forget it.
  2. Thank him/her for feedback or advice– Thank the person to wrap up the conversation quickly.
  3. Agree to disagree– If the first two options are not fitting into the conversation then its best to agree to disagree. 

“Well, I guess, we have different opinion about this; let’s not stretch the conversation further. Keep it simple.”

In case you fall into the second category:

  1. Ask questions– To slow them down in argument start asking questions. The idea is not to challenge them but to make them realise that their knowledge is incomplete and they must listen to others as well to upgrade their knowledge.
  2. Confront them with their behaviour privately– Many times they even don’t know that they are going through “know it all syndrome”. Take the person aside and politely give feedback. 
  3. Show some warmth– When people go through tough times they talk and laugh random without thinking much, just to feel lighter. Possibly the person is going through some personal challenges, rather than getting angry and irritated, just listen him/her. Be empathetic. 

Above all, in any situation you always need to choose between reacting and responding. Reaction will lead you to an unending arguments and it makes you powerless. And on the other hand responding empowers you and saves you by getting slander. 

Remember, lack of something forces a person to do more efforts to overcome it but the effort has to be in the right direction. Stay compassionate and have a let go attitude. Invest your time in someone to uplift him/her if possible but not to let yourself down. 

This world is an amazing meeting place. With some you encounter, with some you walk and with a few you establish an uplifting relationship. Uplifting relationship is far away from this syndrome “I know it all”. 

Love & Gratitude

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